Monday, March 09, 2009

Brier: stats fairly useless?

by Dalene Heck

CALGARY – Statistics don’t always tell the story in a curling game.

An end-changing or game-changing runback doesn’t show up on the score sheet, highlighted in yellow, and surrounded by stars and exclamation points. And, even if the statsperson was feeling particularly creative and applied doodlestars to stress the significance of the shot, those doodles wouldn’t translate into the final number that enters the record books.

As a tool to evaluate a single player’s effect on a game, stats can be fairly useless.

What statistics do well, however, is tell the story of a curling event. And the overall story so far in the Brier has been of marked one-sidedness. Let’s look at a couple of stats to support this claim:

• An average of over four points has separated winners and losers through day two. Eight of the last eighteen games have had point differentials of five or more. Nail-biting, final rock excitement is nearly non-existent.

• The variation in shooting percentages among the players is astounding. Almost a thirty point spread at the skip position. Almost a twenty percent difference in overall team scores.

There are exceptions to every story of course – and some battles have been heated, exciting contests. Last night’s clash between Ontario and Newfoundland came to an all-out thrilling conclusion, even if Brad Gushue himself wouldn’t choose the word “thrilling” to describe it.

It must be said, however, that all of the thrills didn’t come from skilled shotmaking, but rather the exact opposite.

The best Brier ever? Hmm. Maybe KMart was right, and 1995 was superior?

Right now there appears to be some very distinct divisions in the level of play. The bottom half of this barrel has some work to do to close the gap, and four days left of round robin play to do it.

CCA photo above by Michael Burns

1 comment:

Mr. Common Sense said...

As the adage says "stats are for losers".
1.How does the scorer know for sure what is the best shot for the end result?
2.Also, some skips call a much easier game, hence the team has a much higher percentage.
3.What does a player get for an "either/or shot?
If the percentages were based on degree of difficulty then that would be a much better indication of how a player is playing.